Updated postal network could expand global trade, says WTO head

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The new Universal Postal Union strategy of integrating physical, electronic and financial networks could dramatically facilitate expanding global trade.

This was a key message brought forth by Pascal Lamy , director general of the World Trade Organization, who spoke at the UPU's 2006 Strategy Conference that opened Nov. 14 in Dubai, U.A.E.

The UPU, a United Nations specialized agency based in Berne, Switzerland, is the primary forum for cooperation between postal services.

In his keynote speech, given via video, WTO's Mr. Lamy told 700 delegates from more than 130 countries that the UPU strategy "will optimize the use of the postal network and new electronic technologies and lower transaction costs, which is of particular importance for increasing productivity in developing countries."

Postal services remain an important means of communication supporting trade and other economic activities, he said. Postal services constitute an important sector of trade in services, and cooperation between the UPU and WTO was necessary to "ensure the coherence of their activities," he said.

The UPU this year obtained ad hoc observer status in the WTO.

The Strategy Conference organized by the UN's specialized agency for international postal services is a high-level meeting held midway between two Universal Postal Congresses. The next Congress of the UPU's 191 member countries will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2008.

In his welcome address, UPU Director General Edouard Dayan said the Dubai Strategy Conference came at a very important time for the organization, because the ideas and analyses will form the basis of the future World Postal Strategy for 2008-2012 to be adopted at the next Universal Postal Congress.

The information society and new communication technologies, globalization of trade, population movements and migration trends, and the emergence of new players in postal markets are among the many factors that should be incorporated in the UPU's road map for the future, Mr. Dayan said.

"With the postal sector evolving and its boundaries shifting, the UPU is resolutely committed to an open approach, reflecting the realities of a changing world by opening up the floor to all postal sector partners, particularly those of the private sector," he said.

The three-day UPU Strategy Conference, which ends Nov. 16, is held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.

This is the first time the UPU held its Strategy Conference outside Switzerland, at the invitation of Emirates Post and the UAE.

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